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Thread: Rancilio Silvia - Bitter coffee

  1. #1
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    Rancilio Silvia - Bitter coffee

    Gene Cafe Coffee Roaster $850 - Free Beans Free Freight
    I recently purchased my first Rancilio Silvia from coffee-a-roma. *Great machine so far apart from the coffee not tasting quite right.

    I have managed to pulled a number of shots where the coffee has looked perfect. *25 seconds, great crema, made with fresh coffee from beanbay, ground with a quality burr grinder. *I also temp surf (bring boiler to fully heated, then purge the overly hot water) . *I have tried a number of beanbay beans. I backflush the machine as per instructions every 10 days or so. The machine makes 2 or 3 coffees a day and I bought it new. *But the coffee is still overly bitter.

    If the pour is looking good (60mls doubleshot in 25-30 seconds) but the coffee tastes off what should I try next?

    - PID to make sure I have good temps?
    - Getting the pressure of the machine tested (somehow, any suggestions?).

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    Re: Rancilio Silvia - Bitter coffee

    How long after you turn the machine on before you make your shots?

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    Re: Rancilio Silvia - Bitter coffee

    Im not leaving it a long time.

    - switch it on with a quick water purge,
    - 2-5 minutes later put some hot water into a coffee cup and portafiller.
    - 1-3 mins of fussing around grinding coffee
    - Purge water till the light comes back on
    - When light switches off, purge water for 2-3 secs till it stops gurgling (temp surf method)
    - Brew.

    Leaving the machine on longer and/or putting water through it will help reduce the bitterness I am experiencing?

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    Re: Rancilio Silvia - Bitter coffee

    Espresso, by its very nature, will be bitter to the palate.

    Its just so concentrated. Even if you pull a perfect shot it will be bitter.


    Try removing the crema. It kills most of the bitterness in one simple step.

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    Senior Member Koffee_Kosmo's Avatar
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    Re: Rancilio Silvia - Bitter coffee

    Quote Originally Posted by 5F4E5A4349465B555F4E2F0 link=1271070177/2#2 date=1271074016
    Im not leaving it a long time.
    Leaving the machine on longer and/or putting water through it will help reduce the bitterness I am experiencing? *
    Simple answer is probably
    However coffee by its nature is bitter

    Every part of the machine needs to warm up or reach a working temperature for good operation

    Not unlike a car "yes" *it will drive cold but it operates at its peak when it reaches its optimum operating temperature

    Try a 30 to 40 minute warm up and compare
    KK

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    Re: Rancilio Silvia - Bitter coffee

    Bitter coffee usually comes with high temps or overextraction, sour shots are "generally" caused by cooler brew temps, what baskets are you using? and are you temp surfing correctly? have you tested the temp of the water coming out? foam cup works works ok to test temp, google it.....

    Also are you trying to steam then pull or pull then steam? and are you leaving it for the brew head to settle (10-15mins) after steaming prior to pulling more shots?


    cheers
    warren


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    Re: Rancilio Silvia - Bitter coffee

    Quote Originally Posted by 6776627B717E636D6776170 link=1271070177/2#2 date=1271074016
    Leaving the machine on longer and/or putting water through it will help reduce the bitterness I am experiencing? *
    Based on some careful work done by others the Silvia takes 20-30 minutes to come up to temp properly. As was put above here what you may be getting is sour rather than bitter but not good to taste anyway. Lots more reading around the place from those with a lot more experience on the Silvia in particular but leave it for 25-30 minutes and see if that helps *:)

    A little reading here http://www.coffeecrew.com/gear/411-l...ancilio-silvia and here http://coffeegeek.com/forums/espress.../134251?Page=1 actual data from PID kits here http://pidkits.com/warmup.html also I have seen a quick heat up method by the Coffeekid but your better to wait for a more uniform result.

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    Re: Rancilio Silvia - Bitter coffee


    I also temp surf (bring boiler to fully heated, then purge the overly hot water)
    I never used this method, preferring to just wait a prescribed time after the light went out.
    Have a read through the "Id really like to PID" thread stuck to the start of this section, theres good info there regards times and temp, consider adding a thermocouple, it helps a lot.
    Silvia takes 40-45 minutes to warm up, when I installed a PID I fitted the t/c temp meter I was using to monitor boiler temp to the group head, it does take a while to warm up.

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    Re: Rancilio Silvia - Bitter coffee

    If you are electronic savvy and have a keen interest to learn, there is my super cheap DIY pid install guide here too(its a sticky).......
    http://coffeesnobs.com.au/YaBB.pl?num=1246334170

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    Senior Member GregWormald's Avatar
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    Re: Rancilio Silvia - Bitter coffee

    With all the above advice re: heating taken, bitterness can still be the result of over-extraction.

    I cant tolerate a full extraction myself and only drink ristrettos. Try grinding a bit finer to get 25 ml or so in 20 seconds from a double and see how you like that taste.

    Greg

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    Re: Rancilio Silvia - Bitter coffee

    Thanks for the great advice guys.

    Yesterday I actually pulled three coffees in a row and I drank the last coffee, and it actually did taste a lot better. So I think heating the machine correctly will help. I have a brother who is an electrician so a PID will also be in the machine in the coming weeks.

    I have some fresh coffee arriving today so I will try a 30 min warm up and quick extraction.

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    Re: Rancilio Silvia - Bitter coffee

    Quote Originally Posted by 3120342D2728353B3120410 link=1271070177/10#10 date=1271221805
    I have a brother who is an electrician so a PID will also be in the machine in the coming weeks.

    I wish I had a brother who was an electrician!

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    Re: Rancilio Silvia - Bitter coffee

    Good to hear your on the improve :) Now you have a good starting point just change one thing at a time from here and taste see if its better or worse then tweak accordingly. Its an easy thing to try two or three things at once and not progrees.

    keep playing 8-)

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    Re: Rancilio Silvia - Bitter coffee

    FWIW

    i have sour coffee out of my 2009 silvia at times. i think it is due to temperature being too low. i know that 15-20 min warm up does not appear to be long enough for silvia. i find usually ~30min is enough. today i conducted an experiment and warmed it up for ~1 hour. it was a waste of time, IMO. The coffee was no better than with 30-35min warm up, at least not on silvia (2009 model).
    i dont play games with the steam button - i think it just wears out the machine more for no good reason. i just prime the machine, wait 30min, and then (when ready) i pour some hot water from the head until the heating light comes on. Then i wait for it to go off and then i lock the PF and make by double-shot. It seem to be enough to make a good double espresso.

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    !!!!!!!!!!!

    Just got a new Silvia yesterday and so far it has been fun learning, it's coupled with a Rocky doserless grinder. I'm sitting on a grind of about 7 and have an extraction of about 20-30 seconds before it blondes. The coffees coming out quite bitter and i'm unsure why. The beans are roasted freshly so i don't think it's them.
    Any tips on un bittering my coffee?

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    Sounds like the temp might be too hot when you pull the shot. Are you temperature surfing?

    If not, jump on youtube and check it out.

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    I get the boiler to cycle twice and once the light goes off i wait ~30 seconds before pulling the shot

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    Senior Member sidewayss's Avatar
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    Do you cut off the shot when it starts to blond? Stop brewing as soon as blond starts appearing. This way you are avoiding the bitter compounds being extracted, same way as tea if you leave the tea bag or tea leaves in for too long.

    Miss Silvia demands that the technique is done correctly, or she will slap you in the face with her bitterness.
    Done right, she will reward you with a sweet kiss of dark gold.

    Indicator of right dose: the concave ring markers on the inside of each Rancilio filter basket is the indicator. Dose below that, you have under-dosed. Above the marker, you have over-dosed.
    Try this. Grind into the portafilter to a mound. Tap once on the bench or prongs of the grinder to collapse the grounds. Tamp, evenly as this is important for an even extraction. Wipe off the lip of the portafilter and lugs. Do not worry about tapping the sides or banging it on the bench to distribute any loose grounds or the risk of fracturing the carefully tamped puck is increased and it may cause channeling.
    Aim to use the markers of the tamper as your guide. Once that's done, you should look to see if the top of the grounds is level with the inside ring indicator of the basket. A bit of practice, and you'll get it right.
    Brew. Look at the pour and see if it runs in a thin straight stream with a consistency of thin honey. Cut it off as soon as blond appears.
    Golden brown is good. Blond sucks.

    You've only had your Silvia for not long, so given more time and getting to know her better, you'll be enjoying great coffee.

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    Alright that sounds good, i'll post a photo of when i cut the stream off to show maybe i'm cutting it off too late? This morning the shot was a lot less bitter which was nice, i'm using the double dose basket i'll try that tamping/dosing technique it seems similar to what i'm doing, i might be over dosing just a little bit.

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    Hi,

    I have a silvia as well, i'm not an expert but here are some of the things I do.

    Use recently roasted beans... I usually use the beans I roast myself (after a few days* of degassing), I find that the supermarket beans tend to blonde early for me and generally don't taste as nice.

    The following will help you if you've got your temperature surfing sorted out, and you're still getting bitter shots.

    You got to make sure you're tamping at the right pressure. If you've tamped too hard the shots coming out will be burnt and bitter.

    I usually use a small shot measuring glass that helps me tell if I've got this right. Generally after 25 seconds ideally I'd like about 25 ml of espresso.

    So to give you a rough guideline that I noticed:

    After 25 seconds,
    if shot < 20 ml then //this will be Bitter
    adjust tamp with less force
    After 25 seconds,
    if shot > 30 ml then //this will be Sour
    adjust tamp with more force

    Hope this helps!
    Last edited by azeworai; 30th July 2012 at 06:13 PM. Reason: realised he has a grinder so took out the line about grinding just before use.

  21. #21
    Senior Member dr.a.j.pickering's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by azeworai View Post
    After 25 seconds,
    if shot < 20 ml then //this will be Bitter
    adjust tamp with less force
    After 25 seconds,
    if shot > 30 ml then //this will be Sour
    adjust tamp with more force
    !
    Dont change you tamp, do that the same always.

    You should change only one variable at a time. Easiest way to get used to finding the right extraction is to weigh your dose and keep it consistaint (cheep jewellers scales from a extreme hong kong based website are a deal) and change your grind to get the extraction right

  22. #22
    KJM
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    I don't have a Silvia anymore, but I would offer a couple of suggestions.

    The first - as nabsie suggested is temperature. You can measure shot temperature with a multimeter and a bead type thermocouple. You will kill the thermocouple doing this after a couple of goes (up and over the edge of the portafilter). Nothing quite like actually measuring it to see if that is the problem. I drilled a hole in the bottom of a portafilter and used a naked group handle to make this easier. That was a winner..

    Second suggestion - if you're using the Rancillio baskets - get some replacements from one of the sponsors. I used LM baskets at the start and then bought a VST which resulted in a better shot - although the VST is a bigger basket so that's a bit like comparing apples to pears.

    But as dr.a.j.pickering pointed out - only change one thing at a time....

    /Kevin

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    had the exact same problem after 2 years of woenership and trying every possible thing with beans, cleaning, bakfflushing, temp surfing etc etc BUT my espresso shots finally got rid of the bitter/ burnt taste when I took aprt and manually cleaned the 3 way valve. I took pictures for those that are afraid to take apart their Silvia's just to show how straight forward it is AND to prove that backflushing is not enough to solve this problem.

    Man Cave Ramblings: bitter/burnt tasting espresso after trying everything on Rancilio Silvia ?



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